Talking about Walking

Jane’s Walk at OTG in Brooklyn

Calgary Foundation ----- Julie Black, November 2, 2015


In October, I had the great good fortune of meeting up with other grantmakers and citizen leaders in Brooklyn, New York, at the annual On the Ground gathering of the Grassroots Grantmakers network. We shared stories of community change rooted deeply in the dreams and efforts of people right where they live. We visited environmental, place-making, and social justice projects throughout Brooklyn whose organizers found support from And we discussed strategies we used back home in our own work with any of our peers who might be interested.

One of the things I shared was Jane’s Walk.

For us at Calgary Foundation, the City Organizer for Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Jane’s Walk provides an extraordinarily flexible platform for people to tell their neighbourhood and community stories. In our 8 years of Jane’s Walks, we’ve seen people lead walks on a wide array of themes. Some have toured people around the assets they created in their own neighbourhoods – the community gardens and public art, the little free libraries and the community halls. Some have showcased local sites as a way to engage in meaningful conversation about contemporary issues – resiliency in the aftermath of a devastating flood, retrofitting a car-oriented city to a full range of transportation options, confronting social isolation and loneliness through citizen action, and so on. Some have offered walks with no plan other than to slow down, hang out, and experience an under-appreciated part of the city. And we have no idea yet for what people will offer at our next year’s Jane’s Walk festival, except to know that it will be diverse, eclectic, and authentically of this place.




Thank you to my colleagues from New England, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, for spending some Jane’s Walk time with me when we gathered in Brooklyn. As our photo shows, we had a lot of fun thinking about what Jane’s Walk could mean for our own communities.


Julie Black


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